Last week, we went to an assembly in the auditorium so the kids could learn about this year's fund-raising activity. The kids were able to purchase cases of World's Finest Chocolate bars to sell to their friends and family (and weak-willed teachers), and sales will somehow benefit the PTA at the school. A few kids in my class decided to pursue this, and yes, I did buy a couple of candy bars from them.
But it made me think back to when I was in the third grade, and my school's fundraiser was having us sell fertilizer door-to-door. Of course I didn't think anything of it at the time, but looking back on it, that seems a really odd choice of merchandise to have an eight-year-old child sell. But sell it, I did. I think I even sold more than anyone else in my class. I don't know if this is because people in my neighborhood really needed fertilizer, or if it was just a welcome relief from all of the other kids selling candy.
"If that's just another snot-nosed kid selling M&M's... Wait -- what's this? Fertilizer?!? THANK YOU, GOD!!"
I remember that there was one guy in the neighborhood who really boosted my sales. The whole time I was meticulously working my way through my carefully prepared sales pitch, he was making impatient gestures as if to say, "Get on with it," and when I finally did finish, he immediately stated, "Yeah, okay, gimme 20 bags."
I can understand the pity-buy for a candy bar. I've made a few of those myself. Nobody pity-buys a fifty-pound bag of fertilizer.
Thankfully, I wasn't out there lugging around huge bags of manure -- it was a system of pre-order and cash on delivery. And instead of some little crappy plasticy prize like my students get here at the school, WE were actually paid a commission. For every bag we sold, we received a Susan B. Anthony dollar. When I first laid eyes on this previously unheard of coinage -- the reward for my hard efforts -- my reaction was, "What the *%$#??"
Do you know who designed the Susan B. Anthony dollar? Yeah, me neither -- and there's a reason for that.
But, ridiculous coinage aside, I had been paid handsomely for my hard work, so I offered to use some of my money to take the family out to dinner. We went to Pizza Hut and pigged out. When my mom and I went up to the counter to pay at the end of the meal, I carefully laid out ten Susies before the waitress got to the register. When she came to ring us up, she asked, "Who put all these quarters here?"
My current third-graders don't need to worry about being paid in some obscure monetary unit. Instead, they'll get some little mini party at the end of the school year with an air bounce, ring toss, and other hokey little games.
They'd probably just lose the quarters anyway...